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Opioids in the boroughs

Learning about drug recovery on Staten Island and drug dealing among Baltimore police

Opioids in the boroughs

(Bastiaan Slabbers/iStock)

A New York moment:

I’ve been working on a story about the opioid epidemic, traveling around the city to see what responses are working and what aren’t after a year or two of sustained public attention. One striking pattern is how few Christian residential programs exist in the city, despite the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who struggle with opioid addiction. (Some 43,000 are on maintenance drugs like methadone or Suboxone.)

Luke Nasta, the director of Camelot, which I believe is the only residential program on Staten Island, was himself addicted to heroin about 40 years ago. He participated in a residential program in Spanish Harlem called Exodus House for a few years, and it helped him to sobriety. But the home is gone now. David Mapes, a former addict who has worked for decades at Hope Christian Center in the Bronx, said he used to have a resource book with three dozen recovery programs in New York. “They’re gone,” he said. Mapes contends that city funding for other drug interventions in the 1980s decreased interest in Christian programs.

Nationally, men’s residential programs are scarce, but women’s are scarcer. Camelot is starting Staten Island’s first women’s residential program. I talked with Phyllis Phelps, a woman who graduated from a Christian residential recovery program back in the 1980s: This past year she started a new residential program for women in New Hampshire (another place the drug epidemic has hit hard) called House of Hope NH. These new institutions will likely have full beds—in Phelps’ experience the crisis “isn’t getting better. It’s getting worse.”

Worth your time: 

A federal court is hearing an astonishing case of corruption in the Baltimore Police Department, where several officers robbed residents and carried BB guns to plant on suspects. Six officers pleaded guilty, two are on trial. One of the officers in the corruption case testified in another trial that he had robbed drug dealers and protected from prosecution a friend who was a heroin dealer. The case helps explain why the relationship between police and the community is so strained. Last year the police department’s head of community policing told me the city is “bankrupt of relational equity.”

This week I learned:

That two expletives could give a movie an R rating. Phantom Thread has little objectionable material beyond a few curse words but is rated R. In the course of writing a review (look for it in the next issue of WORLD), I was researching what number of curse words tip a movie into “R” territory: Generally the Motion Picture Association of America will slap a movie with that rating if it has more than one instance of a “sexually derived expletive.”

A court case you might not know about:

A member of the Satanic Temple is suing Missouri under the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act because of state abortion regulations, arguing that the Missouri’s informed consent laws violated her religious beliefs when she was seeking an abortion. The state has argued in court that it doesn’t force patients to view an ultrasound of their babies before an abortion: A doctor must simply offer it.

Culture I am consuming:

This Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton music video, a single shot in one take.

Postscript: Email me with tips, story ideas, and feedback at ebelz@wng.org.